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Africa, the Next Development Partner of Bangladesh

Abul Hussain is one of those businessmen of Bangladesh who not only thinks about personal development but also keeps his country’s betterment at the forefront of his activities. He is Managing Director and CEO of Fazilla group of companies and the honorary consul of Uganda in Bangladesh. He is also the secretary of the Standing Committee for African affairs. He is an active member and ex-director of Dhaka Chamber. When Abul Hussain travelled to Uganda in 2008 as a member of a delegation of businessmen he was offered the post of honorary consul by the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni himself.
During the Bangladesh Uganda bilateral talks the president urged Abul Hussain to take the responsibility of the consul of Uganda to Bangladesh since there is no embassy or consulate of Uganda there. He opined that the establishment of the office of an honorary consul will assist in bilateral trade between the countries.
Abul Hussain accepted the president’s proposition and with the approval of the foreign ministry of Bangladesh started operating the consulate of Uganda since 2009.
Abul Hussain stated that there are a lot of trade potential in African countries including Uganda. Uganda is double the size of Bangladesh and has a population of more than 4 crore. There is a lot of uncultivated land there. The fertility of land in Uganda is 1.5 times more than that of Bangladesh. According to agricultural scientists the nutrient rich topsoil in Bangladesh is only one inch deep where as in Uganda it is 12 inch deep meaning soil of Uganda can be used to produce more crops. The country is rich in Gold, Copper and Oil. Cotton, Coffee, Tea, Fruits, Horticulture and many more are being cultivated. There are tourism scopes here too. Mountain Gorillas can be seen in the Safari parks.
The young but experienced business leader Abul Hussain says the population of Bangladesh is more than 17 crore. Bangladesh is currently on its way to becoming a developed country very soon. Currently the availability of farmland is decreasing in Bangladesh. With the passage of time it will decrease even further due to industrialisation. There will come a time when there will be scarcity of cultivatable land. This is a common scenario all over the world in developing countries. The world will reach the time when there will be no cultivatable land anywhere else except Africa. So Bangladesh needs to utilise this scope to acquire land for cultivation, industrialisation and use it’s market to export its products to Africa. Africa can be used to cultivate fruits too. Africa is a huge market for our locally produced garments, plastic, ceramics, jute and jute goods and pharmaceuticals.
Africa is the second largest continent in terms of area and population. There are 54 independent countries and a population of 100 crore. All sectors are open to investment. Countries which were once affected by wars, famine, terrorism or corruption are now stable and safe. Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi and Ghana are politically stable countries. Morocco, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda are also stable. These backward countries can bring immense opportunities to the Agriculture, Pharmaceutical and Technology sectors. The infrastructure sector of these war-torn countries can also act as investment hubs for Bangladesh.
Abul Hussain the honorary consul of Uganda informed that the bilateral trade and diplomatic ties between the two countries have been strengthened in the past 11 years. Their investment policies are very lucrative. Anyone can invest any moment they desire and also withdraw the amount with profit to take back to the home country anytime. He quoted Museveni as saying, “this is a country with a free market economy similar to Singapore and Hong Kong. You can invest at night and pullback in the morning.”. They have duty free tax free services for foreigners.

Husain adds there is a huge demand for Bangladeshi products in Africa. Pran group has marketed a lot of products in Africa already. It is possible to create a mini Bangladesh within every African country if the Bangladesh Bank and Government ease the policies. It will also create a lot of employment.
The optimistic Husain mentions that there is immense potential for the young generation in African Hi tech and IT sector. There is potential for the software companies too. The countries there have just started developing and it’s the right time for Bangladesh to think about opportunities in Africa. He went on saying China, India, Europe and American countries have already invested but Bangladeshi businessmen are unable to do so due to the legal hassles present in our policies. He urges the government and all concerned to remove all legal barriers and simplify policies to encourage investment there.
Abul Hasan informed that there are complicacies related to manpower export to Africa. But an initiative can be taken to send workers for Agro and Pharmaceutical industries with the help of technical employment policies. Abul Hussain looks at Africa as the new development partner of Bangladesh. He thinks it can be haven for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs.


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